Statistics Explained

Maritime transport of goods - quarterly data


Data extracted in October 2022

Planned article update: 31 January 2023

Highlights

833 million tonnes of goods were handled in the main EU ports in the first quarter of 2022.

The gross weight of goods handled in the main EU ports increased by 1.2% in the first quarter of 2022 compared with the same quarter of 2021.

Rotterdam remains the largest EU port with 104 million tonnes of goods handled in the first quarter of 2022.


[[File:Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in EU main ports2022Q1.xlsx]]

Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in EU main ports (2016Q1-2022Q1)

This article presents the main results from quarterly statistics on maritime transport of goods in the European Union (EU), plus figures for Norway, Montenegro and Türkiye. It covers the gross weight of goods handled in the main European ports, by type of cargo, direction, reporting country and various partner regions. These data are complemented by maritime transport flows with the main extra-EU partners, and with individual results for the major European ports.

The article contains data for the first quarter of 2022. Please note that the quarterly port activity figures are provisional and subject to revisions.


Full article


Gross weight of goods handled in the main EU ports increased by 1.2 % in the first quarter of 2022 compared with the same quarter of 2021

At 833 million tonnes, the gross weight of goods handled in the main EU ports decreased by 4.0 % in the first quarter of 2022 compared with the previous quarter, but increased by 1.2 % versus the same quarter of 2021 (Figures 1 and 2). This growth shows a partial recovery of maritime transport that had plummeted due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent restrictions put in place in the EU and worldwide.

After the steady recovery observed since the second quarter of 2010 following the economic crisis, and the peak of activity was reached in the third quarter of 2019, then maritime transport observed a downwards trend until the second quarter of 2020.

When looking at the overall annual change, an increase of 5.0 % was observed in EU ports activity in terms of gross weight of goods handled compared with the previous period (Figure 2).

Figure 1: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports by direction, EU, 2010Q1-2022Q1
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_ewhd)


Inward movement of goods were 61.5 % of the total volume of goods handled in the main EU ports in the first quarter of 2022

The inward movements of goods made 61.5 % of the total volume of goods handled in the main EU ports in the first quarter of 2022. This share increased by 1.5 percentage points (pp) compared with the previous quarter and by 3.0 pp compared with the first quarter of the previous year.

Compared with the first quarter of 2021, the inward movements of goods to the main EU ports increased by 6.4 %, to 513 million tonnes in the first quarter of 2022. In contrast, outward movements decreased by 6.3 % over the same period, down to 320 million tonnes.

When looking at the overall annual aggregate, the inward movements of goods increased by 8.0 % while outward movements grew by 0.8 %.

Figure 2: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports, EU, 2010Q1-2022Q1
(% change rate on same quarter of previous year and annual change rate)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_ewhd)

Large containers registered a decline of 5.1 % in the first quarter of 2022 compared with the same quarter of 2021

Compared with the same quarter of 2021, all types of cargo increased in the first quarter of 2022, with the exception of large containers (-5.1 %). The largest growth was registered by other general cargo (+6.0 %), followed by Roll on - roll off (Ro-Ro) units (+4.4 %), dry bulk goods (+2.9 %) and liquid bulk goods (+2.7 %). When looking at the overall annual change, Ro-Ro units increased by 11.8 %, other general cargo by 10.4 %, dry bulk goods by 7.8 %, liquid bulk by 3.7 % and large containers by 0.2 % (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports by type of cargo, EU, 2020Q1-2022Q1
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_ewhk)

The Netherlands, Spain and Italy each handled more than 100 million tonnes of goods in the first quarter of 2022

In the first quarter of 2022, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy were the EU countries with the largest amount of maritime freight handled in their main ports, each handling more than 100 million tonnes of goods (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports, 2021Q1, 2021Q4 and 2022Q1
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_cwh)

In the first quarter of 2022, seven of the maritime EU Member States reported a decrease in the tonnes of goods handled in their main ports compared with the same quarter of 2021 (Table 1). In relative terms, the largest decrease was observed for Greece (-8.4 %), followed by Lithuania (-6.1 %) and Estonia (-4.2 %). The EFTA country Norway also registered a substantial fall over the same period (-5.1 %). On the other hand, Malta reported the highest increase in main port activity in this period (+58.5 %), followed by Bulgaria (+25.5 %), Romania (+18.9 %), Cyprus (+17.3 %), Slovenia (+13.2 %)and Latvia (+9.9 %). The candidate countries Montenegro and Türkiye also registered a substantial growth over the same period (+111.2  % and +9.2 %, respectively).

When looking at the overall annual change, six EU Member States recorded a decrease. The largest drop was recorded by Malta (-29.6 %), followed by Lithuania (-5.0 %) and Finland (-3.1 %). The most noticeable growth was observed in Romania (+18.2 %), followed by Slovenia (+14.9 %) and Bulgaria (+13.1 %). The candidate countries Montenegro and Türkiye also reported a substantial increase by 15.8 % and 9.2 %, respectively.

Table 1: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports, in selected quarters, 2020Q1-2022Q1
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_cwh)

Russia remained the EU’s largest maritime transport partner in the first quarter of 2022

It should be noted that the figures presented in this section may be influenced by variations in the level of transport reported with unknown partner regions.

At 552 million tonnes, short sea shipping tonnages to and from the main EU ports slightly increased by 0.8 % in the first quarter of 2022 compared with the same quarter in 2021. In contrast, deep sea shipping tonnages saw a fall of 0.3 %, to 268 million tonnes (Figure 5). When looking at the overall annual change, both short sea shipping and deep sea shipping increased compared with the previous period (+4.9 % and +5.3 % respectively).

Figure 5: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports by type of shipping, EU, 2020Q1-2022Q1
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_ewhg)

Between the first quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022, national and international intra-EU transport increased by 6.1 % and 0.2 %, respectively while international extra-EU transport fell by 0.5 % (Figure 6). When looking at the overall annual change, international extra-EU transport grew by 5.5 %, international intra-EU transport by 4.5 % and national transport by 3.6 %.

Figure 6: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports by type of transport, EU, 2020Q1-2022Q1
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_ewht)

The decrease in international extra-EU transport in the first quarter of 2022 compared with the same quarter in 2020 was mainly due to the fall in seaborne transport with Asia and Oceania regions (-7 million tonnes or -6.0 %) and Africa (-4 million tonnes or -3.9 %) (Figure 7). In contrast, transport with America and 'Europe except EU' increased by 3.8 % and 1.9 %, respectively (or + 4 million tonnes each). When looking at the overall annual change, seaborne transport with all partner regions recorded a growth compared with the previous period, the highest being for 'America' (+9.3 %).

Figure 7: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports by partner regions, EU, 2020Q1-2022Q1
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_ewhg)

In terms of the total gross weight of goods, Russia was the EU’s largest maritime transport partner in the first quarter of 2022, followed by the United States of America (USA), the United Kingdom, Türkiye, China, Norway, Brazil, Egypt, Nigeria and Morocco (Figure 8). EU transport with Russia represented 14.8 % of the total extra-EU maritime transport.

Maritime transport between the EU and Morocco recorded the largest fall in the first quarter of 2022 compared with the same quarter of 2021 (-12.3 %). In contrast, traffic with the USA increased substantially over the same period, by 14.2 %.

When looking at the overall annual change, transport between the EU and eight countries among the top 10 extra-EU partner countries increased compared with the previous period. The highest growth was recorded with the USA (+12.9 %). In contrast, decreases were observed for transport between the EU and Egypt (-2.0 %) and between the EU and Morocco (-1.8 %).

Figure 8: Top 10 extra-EU partner countries in maritime transport, EU, 2021Q1-2022Q1
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_ewhp)

A substantial share of the seaborne transport with Russia is made up of inward movements of liquid bulk goods to the main EU ports, particularly crude oil and oil products from Russian ports on the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea (Figure 9). Even though Russia was the main partner of the EU in the first quarter of 2022, the main maritime trade flow concerned inward movements of large containers from China, with 17.0 million tonnes. When looking at outward movements, large containers going to China were the second main maritime trade flow, after the outward movements of Ro-Ro mobile units to the United Kingdom.

In the first quarter of 2022, the top 20 trade flows were largely dominated by inward movements of liquid bulk goods (crude oil and oil products), with the following exceptions: large containers from China and Türkiye, Ro-Ro mobile units from the United Kingdom, coal from Russian ports on the Baltic Sea and the East coast of the USA, ores from Brazil as well as outward movements of Ro-Ro mobile units to the United Kingdom and of large containers to China and the East coast of the USA.

Figure 9: Top 20 extra-EU maritime trade flows, EU, 2021Q1, 2021Q4 and 2022Q1
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_ewh)

In the first quarter of 2022 compared with the same quarter of 2021, there were substantial increases in the inward and outward movements; the most noticeable being for liquefied gas, crude oil and coal from the East coast of the USA (+164.8 %, 32.4 % and +26.0 %, respectively), crude oil from Russian ports on the Baltic Sea (+19.2 %), from Norway (+15.6 %) and from Nigeria (+14.3 %), Ro-Ro mobile units from the United Kingdom (+13.2 %), large containers from China (+11.8 %) and crude oil from Russian ports on the Black Sea (+11.2 %). By contrast, large decreases were observed for ores from Brazil (-31.7 %), large containers to China (-22.2 %), crude oil from Libya (-21.1 %) and coal from Russian ports on the Baltic Sea (-11.7 %) (Table 2).

When looking at the overall annual change, 18 of the top 20 maritime trade flows recorded a growth compared with the previous period. The highest increase was registered in the inward movements of crude oil from Libya (+114.0 %), followed by inward movements of liquefied gas from the East coast of the USA (+91.1 %), inward movements of crude oil from Russian ports on the Baltic Sea (+35.4 %), inward movements of ores from Brazil (+30.9 %), inward movements of coal from the East coast of the USA (+22.8 %) and inward movements of crude oil from Norway (+22.1 %). In contrast, drops were recorded in the inward movements of crude oil from Russian ports in the Black Sea (-9.8 %) and from the United Kingdom (-8.7 %).

Table 2: Top 20 extra-EU maritime trade flows, EU, in selected quarters, 2020Q1-2022Q1
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_ewh)

Rotterdam remained the EU port with largest activity in the first quarter of 2022

Rotterdam was by far the EU port with the largest activity in the first quarter of 2022, with 104 million tonnes of gross weight of goods handled (Figure 10). Rotterdam was the main EU port for all types of cargo, except large containers (when expressed in twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs)) and Ro-Ro mobile units (Figures 11 to 16). The second main port was Antwerp-Bruges [1], which handled 64 million tonnes. The third port was Hamburg with 27 million tonnes. The fourth and fifth ports were Amsterdam and Algeciras with 22 and 20 million tonnes, respectively. Among the five ports, only Algeciras registered a decrease compared with the first quarter of 2021 (-3.3 %). In the same period, Antwerp-Bruges increased by 8.4 %, Rotterdam by 5.0 %, Amsterdam by 1.8 % and Hamburg by 1.0 %.

When looking at the overall annual change, Rotterdam and Hamburg registered both a decrease by 3.3 %. In contrast, the largest growth was observed for Amsterdam (+3.4 %), while Antwerp-Bruges and Algeciras increased by 2.4 % and 1.3 %, respectively.

Figure 10: Top 5 EU maritime ports, 2021Q1-2022Q1
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_pwh)

When looking at liquid bulk, Rotterdam was by far the main EU port in the first quarter of 2022, followed by Antwerp-Bruges, Marseille, HAROPA [2] and Trieste (Figure 11). The port of Antwerp-Bruges registered the largest increase (-19.4 %) compared with the same quarter of 2021, leading to an overall annual change rate compared with the previous period of +12.0 %. The port of HAROPA also grew by 11.2 % compared with the same quarter of 2021 leading to an overall annual change rate compared with the previous period of +9.2 %. The port of Marseille also recorded a substantial increase by 9.8 % in the first quarter of 2022 compared with the same quarter of 2021. However, when looking at the overall annual change rate, Marseille registered a decrease of 0.9 % compared with the previous period. The port of Trieste also substantially grew by 8.7 % compared with the same quarter of 2021 leading to an overall annual change rate compared with the previous period of +9.9 %. In contrast, Rotterdam recorded a fall in the first quarter of 2022 compared with the same quarter of 2021 (-2.7 %) but a growth of the overall annual change rate compared with the previous period (+5.4 %).

Figure 11: Top 5 EU maritime ports for liquid bulk, 2021Q1-2022Q1
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_pwhl)

When looking at dry bulk, Rotterdam was again the main EU port in the first quarter of 2022, followed by Amsterdam, Constanta, Hamburg and Gent (Figure 12). Constanta recorded the highest growth in the first quarter of 2022 compared with the same quarter of 2021 (+22.3 %). Amsterdam and Gent also increased substantially, by 18.0 % and 9.0 %, respectively. In contrast, Hamburg and Rotterdam recorded a decrease over the same period (-7.2 % and -2.8 % respectively). When looking at the overall annual change rate compared with the previous period, all ports reported substantial growth, with the exception of Hamburg which remained stable. Constanta registered the highest growth (+28.1 %), followed by Rotterdam (+19.1 %), Amsterdam (+12.7 %) and Gent (+8.9 %).

Figure 12: Top 5 EU maritime ports for dry bulk, 2021Q1-2022Q1
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_pwhb)

In the large container cargo segment, Rotterdam, Antwerp-Bruges and Hamburg remained the three main EU ports in the first quarter of 2022, followed by Valencia and Algeciras (Figure 13). All five ports recorded a decrease compared with the same quarter of the previous year. The biggest drop was registered by Antwerp-Bruges (-12.7 %), leading to an overall annual change of -2.9 %. Valencia, Algeciras and Rotterdam also showed a substantial fall compared with the same quarter of the previous year (-10.2 %, -7.4 % and -6.2 %, respectively). When looking at the overall annual change compared with the previous period, Algeciras recorded a substantial fall by 10.8 %. Hamburg decreased by 1.2 %, compared with the same quarter of the previous year, but the overall annual change was positive compared with the previous period(+1.0 %).

Figure 13: Top 5 EU maritime ports for large containers, 2021Q1-2022Q1
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_pwhc)

When looking at the number of twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) handled in the same period, the ranking was somehow different to the one based on tonnes of containerised goods (Figure 14). Antwerp-Bruges was ranked first while Rotterdam was in the second position. Hamburg and Valencia were third and fourth while Bremerhaven entered in fifth position. All top five ports decreased in the first quarter of 2022 compared with the same quarter of 2021 with the exception of Hamburg (+1.4 %). The highest drop was recorded by Valencia (-9.6 %), followed by Antwerp-Bruges (-9.5 %), Bremerhaven (-8.3 %) and Rotterdam (-1.0 %). Regarding the overall annual change compared with the previous period, Rotterdam and Hamburg recorded a growth (+3.8 % and +2.5 %, respectively), while the three remaining ports remained relatively stable.

Figure 14: Top 5 EU maritime ports for large containers, 2021Q1-2022Q1
(thousand TEUs)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_pvh)

When looking at the tonnage of Ro-Ro mobile units, the picture is very different compared with the other types of cargo. Antwerp-Bruges was the largest EU Ro-Ro port in the first quarter of 2022. It was followed by Calais, Lubeck, Trelleborg and Livorno.

Compared with the same quarter of 2021, Antwerp-Bruges was the only top five port to record a growth (+9.7 %) in the first quarter of 2022. In contrast, Trelleborg substantially decreased by 6.6 %, Lubeck by 2.8 %, Livorno by 2.2 % and Calais by 0.7 %. When looking at the overall annual change compared with the previous period, all ports recorded substantial increases. The highest increase was recorded by Antwerp-Bruges, with +36.0 %, followed by Calais (+23.4 %), Lubeck (+19.2 %), Livorno (+11.6 %) and Trelleborg (+7.9 %). These large growths certainly reflect the partial recovery following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Figure 15: Top 5 EU maritime ports for Ro-Ro mobile units, 2021Q1-2022Q1
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_pwhr)

When looking at the tonnes of other general cargo, three Dutch ports were part of the top five EU ports in the first quarter of 2022. Rotterdam ranked first, Zeeland Seaports third and Amsterdam fifth. Antwerp-Bruges ranked second and Valencia fourth. Antwerp-Bruges registered the largest increase compared with the same quarter of 2021, by 42.2 %, followed by Zeeland Seaports (+18.0 %), Valencia (+2.8 %) and Rotterdam (+2.7 %). In contrast, Amsterdam recorded a decrease by 1.3 % over the same period. When looking at the overall annual change rates compared with the previous period, all ports recorded a growth. Antwerp-Bruges substantially increased by 71.4 %, Valencia by 19.2 %, Zeeland Seaports by 13.6 %, Amsterdam by 6.3 % and Rotterdam by 0.7 %.

Figure 16: Top 5 EU maritime ports for other general cargo, 2021Q1-2022Q1
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_pwho)

Data sources and availability

The content of this statistical article is based on data collected within the framework of the EU maritime transport statistics Directive 2009/42/EC on statistical returns in respect of carriage of goods and passengers by sea.

EU aggregates refer to the total of 22 maritime Member States. Czechia, Luxembourg, Hungary, Austria and Slovakia have no maritime ports. Norway and Iceland provide Eurostat with data as members of the European Economic Area (EEA). However, quarterly data are currently not available for Iceland. The EEA country Liechtenstein has no maritime ports. The candidate countries Montenegro and Türkiye provide data on a voluntary basis.

'Main ports' are ports handling more than 1 million tonnes of goods annually (however, data for some smaller ports may be included in the published results). Data are presented at the level of 'statistical ports'. A statistical port consists of one or more ports, normally controlled by a single port authority, able to record ship and cargo movements. All tables are based on ports' total (inward + outward) declarations. The results represent the 'handling' of goods in ports.

The 'short sea shipping' aggregate (in Figure 5) includes partner ports geographically situated in Europe, on the Mediterranean or on the Black Sea. 'Deep sea shipping' is the complementary geographical aggregate, covering maritime transport of goods on intercontinental routes, crossing oceans. A more extensive definition of 'short sea shipping' is available in the article Maritime transport statistics - short sea shipping of goods.

The concept of maritime transport trade (in Figure 9 and Table 2) is defined using the following three variables:

  1. Direction: 'inwards' transport is distinguished from 'outwards' transport.
  2. Partner geographical area (partner region): usually this corresponds to one country, with the exception of countries of such a size and/or geographical position that the location of individual ports may be quite different and may have a strong impact on the maritime route followed. For example, the ports of the United States of America are grouped in two geographical areas: 'East Coast' (including Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Great Lakes and Puerto Rico) and 'West Coast' (Pacific).
  3. Type of cargo: the following thirteen cargo types are used in Figure 9 and Table 2: liquefied gas, crude oil, oil products, other liquid bulk goods, ores, coal, agricultural products, other dry bulk goods, large containers, Ro-Ro mobile units, forestry products, iron/steel products and other general cargo. The first four types constitute 'liquid bulk', the subsequent four types 'dry bulk', and the last three types 'other general cargo not elsewhere specified', as presented in Figures 3 and 11 to 16.


Abbreviations

: not available
- not applicable
Nes Not elsewhere specified
Ro-Ro Roll-on/roll-off
TEU Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit


Quarterly data are in general provisional. Revisions may be made by countries as more complete information becomes available or as a result of quality checks. More specifically, when the complete set of annual data emerges, this usually involves some revision of quarterly data for some countries. This applies particularly to the quarterly estimates of port traffic by type of cargo, which are less robust than the annual totals.

Annual data as presented in this publication are the rolling four quarter totals ending in the latest quarter and the corresponding four quarters for earlier years. As a result, the four quarters included do not necessarily come from the same calendar year. For example, the 'annual' growth rate in Figure 1 shows the percentage change for the four quarters ending in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the four quarters ending in the first quarter of 2021.

The basic results (in million tonnes) and the derived indicators (growth rates) shown in the tables are rounded. However, they are all based on non-rounded original data, as available in Eurostat's database.

Specific remarks for data up to and including the first quarter of 2022:

  • Starting from 2013 Q1, the quarterly figures for Germany include data for all national ports (both main ports and minor ports).
  • The quarterly data for port activity in France have been partially estimated by Eurostat for the period 2009 Q1-2016 Q1. These data are to be considered as provisional and are likely to be revised. In general, such estimates reduce the accuracy of the statistics at detailed levels.
  • Starting from 2019 Q1, the statistical coverage of data has improved for Greece, having more ports reporting quarterly data.
  • Starting from 2011 Q1, the quarterly figures for Spain include data for a number of regional ports outside the state-controlled port system.
  • Starting from 2018 Q1, quarterly figures for Portugal include data for all national ports (both main ports and minor ports).
  • Starting from 2013 Q1, the quarterly figures for Sweden include data for all national ports (both main ports and minor ports).

Due to revisions of the underlying data, figures in this article may differ from figures currently or previously available on Eurostat's web site.

Context

The content of this statistical article is based on data collected within the framework of the EU maritime transport statistics Directive 2009/42/EC of 6 May 2009 on statistical returns in respect of carriage of goods and passengers by sea, which is a recast of the original Council Directive 95/64/EC of 8 December 1995.


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  1. Starting from 2022, the ports Antwerpen and Zeebrugge have been merged and the data are reported under the new port name Antwerp-Bruges.
  2. Starting from 2022, the ports Le Havre and Rouen have been merged and the data are reported under the new port name HAROPA.